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Rangers Threatened By Paintball Shots

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

National Park News

On August 3rd, two rangers were investigating illegal chainsaw use in the park’s backcountry when they were fired upon by a paintball gun. Rangers Shaun Hughes and Brad Heyrman were on patrol in the Beaver Lake area of the park near dusk when they heard a chainsaw running in the vicinity of one of the park’s remote backcountry designated camping areas, which provide accommodations for a number of parties on a single night. Chainsaw use is not allowed in this portion of the park. As they approached what they thought was the most likely campsite, they saw a group of six people sitting around a campfire. Before entering the campsite, they paused briefly about 30 yards away along the established trail to watch the group for officer safety reasons and to look for the chainsaw. Before they were able to formally announce themselves and make their approach, one member of the group said “What’s that?,” then picked up a weapon and began firing in the direction of the rangers, who heard and felt at least five rounds passing nearby and recognized them as probable paintball rounds. The rangers immediately took cover, announced themselves as National Park Service rangers, and ordered that the weapon be put down. Members of the group laughed and the weapon was not dropped promptly. After announcing themselves again and advising the shooter that they would return fire if any additional rounds were fired, the shooter put the weapon down on the ground and the rangers entered, took control of the scene, and seized the weapon. The assailant said that he had “heard some noises” in the woods and “thought it might be a bear.”  He said he was simply shooting in the direction of the noise and had not seen the rangers, any of the other camping parties, or the large group camped nearby in the group camp site. The party included four adults and two children. The holder of the backcountry camping permit was charged for the illegal chainsaw use. The shooter was charged with illegal weapon possession and interfering with agency function.


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